DAMASCUS, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army carried out several rounds of shelling against positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Qaida affiliate, in northern Syria over the past 24 hours, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported Wednesday.
The report said the Syrian army had inflicted a hefty toll on the HTS in the northwestern province of Idlib, in retaliation for previous attacks by the group on military positions in the region.
The military bombardment also struck positions of the HTS in the countryside of Aleppo, Latakia, and Hama provinces, it added.
The rebel-held areas in Idlib are included in the so-called de-escalation zone deal mediated by Türkiye, Russia, and Iran in 2017 with the aim of achieving a long-lasting cessation of hostilities in the northern region.
The deal was broken several times as numerous confrontations have taken place.
Syrian and Turkish foreign ministers met earlier this month in Moscow to discuss the reconciliation. However, no agreement has yet been reached as Syria insisted the withdrawal of Turkish forces from northern Syria should be the prelude to the reconciliation.
The tension between Syria and the Turkish-backed rebels escalated with the recent exchange of fire.
According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights figures, 211 people have been killed in mutual shellings between the Syrian forces and the rebels in northern Syria so far this year. ■